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Dr. Gregory Pais, ND
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Home arrow Blog arrow POOR SCIENCE AND HOKUM
On February 28, 2007 the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a research study that concluded antioxidants vitamins slightly increase the risk of death. These much-publicized results have given the vitamin bashers new ammunition in their efforts to deride nutritional supplementation. You've heard it before, "all you need is to eat a well-rounded diet." Of course this is the same diet that has produced unprecedented levels of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

From a scientific perspective I have serious criticisms of this study's conclusions. First, 21 clinical trials that the researchers examined, but did not include in their conclusions, were excluded from the final results. If these trails had been included there would have been no significant correlation between vitamin taking and increased risk of death. Second, nutrient forms were used without regard for toxicity or physiology. For instance, synthetic beta carotene, which has a known negative interaction with cigarette smoke, was used in a mix of smokers and non-smokers. While vitamin E, present in food in 4 forms-alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-, is mostly studied using pure alpha tocopherol. Alpha-tocopherol's positive effects on cardiovascular health are well known. But taking large amounts can use up gamma-tocopherol, which may have an even greater supportive effect on cardiovascular health. All 4 forms of vitamin E should have been used in these trials to accurately judge effects.

It's not unusual to find poor reviews of alternative medicine in mainstream medical journals like JAMA. The pharmaceutical industry carries too much clout. Additionally, Goran Bjelakovic, the author of this article has published other articles that claim vitamins hurt people. Just as in this current study, high levels of the wrong forms of vitamins are used to prove his point. Plus, most of the studies that were included in this analysis were of patients that were already chronically ill.

The American Cancer Society queried 991,522 US adults about their use of vitamin supplements. Following up 16 years later, it was found that people who took vitamin E supplements for 10 years or longer reduced their risk of death from bladder cancer by 40%. This study was not included in Bjelakovic's analysis. In 2006 a derivative of vitamin E was found to cause the death of cancer cells. The substance, called vitamin E succinate, or alpha tocopheryl succinate, kills cancer cells by causing them to undergo a natural process known as programmed cell death, or apoptosis.


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